Game Notes: Memphis Redbirds (7-7) vs. Round Rock Express (9-5)
Memphis Redbirds (7-7) vs Round Rock Express (9-5)
Friday, April 19 - 7:05 p.m. (CT) - AutoZone Park (10,000) - Memphis, Tennessee
Game #15 - Home Game #8 (4-3)
RHP Alex Reyes (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs LHP Cionel Perez (0-0, 4.26 ERA)
BY THE NUMBERS
18 Number of players on Round Rock's roster that faced the Redbirds during the 2018 Pacific Coast League Championship Series
TONIGHT'S GAME: The Memphis Redbirds return to action at AutoZone Park tonight to open a four-game set against the Round Rock Express to close out a seven-game homestand. Last night's series finale against San Antonio was postponed due to inclement weather and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Monday, May 27. Tonight marks the second time the two clubs have met this month, as they split their four-game set at Dell Diamond 2-2. Tonight's game will be broadcast live on www.memphisredbirds.com with Steve Selby on the call.
ON THE HILL: Right-hander Alex Reyes is scheduled to take the mound in tonight's game and make his first start of the season and his third appearance overall. In 2019, Reyes has posted a 0.00 ERA in 4.2 innings pitched and has yet to allow a hit in 12 at-bats. The Elizabeth, N.J., native enters his seventh professional season and has spent them all in the St. Louis organization. In his last start with the Redbirds on May 24, 2018, during his rehab assignment, Reyes twirled a one-hit gem and struck out 13 over 7.0 innings in the Redbirds 7-4 victory over the Dodgers at AutoZone Park. At one point in the contest, Reyes retired nine-in-a-row via strikeout en route to his third straight rehab start with at least 12 strikeouts. The 24-year-old made three appearances with St. Louis, but went 0-1, 15.00 (5 ER/3.0 IP) before being optioned to Memphis on April 7. Reyes entered 2019 ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Cardinals system by Baseball America for the fourth straight year. He is also ranked as the No.5 right-handed prospect by the same publication.
The Express are scheduled to start left-hander Cionel Perez tonight. The 22-year-old is slated to make his third start of the season and his second road start. In his last time out on Saturday against the Redbirds at Dell Diamond, Perez tossed two scoreless frames and allowed just one hit in the Express' 9-4 defeat. The La Habana, Cuba, native spent the bulk of last season at Double-A Corpus Christi, where he went 6-1, 1.98 (15 ER/68.1 IP) in 16 G/11 GS. Perez also went on to make his Major League debut in 2018 as well on July 11 vs. Oakland, where he tossed 1.2 innings, allowing one runs on two hits. He entered 2019 ranked as the No.12 prospect in the Astros organization by Baseball America.
HISTORY WITH ROUND ROCK: The two clubs have met every year since 2005, with the Redbirds taking a slight 120-105 edge overall. The 'Birds also hold a 61-49 advantage at AutoZone Park and have gone 11-6 at this facility the past two seasons. The Redbirds and Express finished all-square at 8-8 in 2018, which was only the second time in 14 seasons that the two teams had split the season series. Memphis has not lost a season series to Round Rock since 2015.
After eight years as the Rangers Triple-A affiliate, the Express are the Astros top affiliate for the first time since 2010. The Express spent their first six years in the Pacific Coast League as the Astros Triple-A team, where the Redbirds went 55-38 from 2005-10, including 12-4 in each of the last two seasons before the Express switched affiliations.
ABOUT THE LAST ONE: The Memphis Redbirds (7-7) picked up their third-straight win and fourth in the last five contests overall Wednesday night at AutoZone Park, scoring two runs in three separate innings en route to a 7-6 victory over the San Antonio Missions (Brewers).
Tommy Edman was 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored, extending his hitting streak to nine games. He now has seven multi-hit games in 12 starts this season. Edmundo Sosa also had three hits, and Max Schrock was 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run. Drew Robinson was on base five times with a single, three walks, and a hit by pitch.
Daniel Ponce de Leon threw 6.0 innings and picked up his second win of the season, striking out eight and walking one. Ryan Meisinger pitched 2.0 scoreless, hitless innings of relief, and John Fasola earned his second save in two days by finishing out the ninth inning. San Antonio (7-7) scored twice in the ninth, coming off a wild pitch and a Mauricio Dubon home run, but Fasola got an easy groundout to finish the ballgame.
Memphis led 3-0 after three innings, before San Antonio tied it up in the top of the fourth. But the Redbirds answered right back in the home-half with John Nogowski hitting a two-run home run, his second of the season, to make the score 5-3.
San Antonio again got within a run on another home run in the top of the sixth, before the Redbirds got some breathing room on Schrock's two-run single in the bottom of the seventh.
In addition to being on base five times, Robinson stole his second base of the season, as did Schrock.
The Redbirds and the Missions wrap up their three-game series tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. The Redbirds are home through Monday.
TWO-HIT TOMMY: Through his first 12 starts of the season, INF Tommy Edman has seven multi-hit games, including three, three-hit performances, April 12 at San Antonio, Saturday at Round Rock and last night vs. San Antonio. He is also currently riding a team-high nine-game hitting streak and has reached safely in 11 of 12 contests. His 20 hits and five doubles are most among the current Redbirds roster, while he ranks 2nd with a .370 batting average. He also ranks 5th with a .407 OBP.
EXTRA! EXTRA!: The Redbirds have recorded at least one extra-base hit in every game this season, collecting 25 doubles, three triples and 14 home runs. Tommy Edman leads the team with seven extra-base hits.
WALK IT OFF: The Redbirds walk-off defeat to the Missions on April 9 was the first time since Aug. 5, 2017 that the Redbirds had lost in such fashion. The following night, it marked the first time since June 23-24, 2014 that the Redbirds had lost consecutive games in the last at-bat of the game. The two walk-off defeats this season have already matched last year's total.
CAUGHT IN A STORM: The Redbirds' 11-run defeat on April 8 marked the first time that Redbirds lost by 11 runs or more since June 16, 2018, when the Redbirds fell 13-1 at El Paso. Additionally, Omaha's 12-run second was the first time since May 12, 2016 against the Storm Chasers, that the Redbirds had given up more than 10 runs in an inning.
Elier Hernandez and Nick Dini became the first two opponents to hit back-to-back home runs against the Redbirds since May 8, 2017 and Hernandez became the first player to post a 6 RBI against Memphis since June 9, 2018.
FIRST NO MORE: Following Memphis' defeat on April 6, the Redbirds fell out of first place for the first time since April 28, 2017. It also marked the first time since April 27, 2017 that their record fell below the .500 mark. The Redbirds played the final 120 games of the 2017 season in first place, and played all 140 games of 2018 in first place. They had been in first place for the 708 calendar days, playing 262 regular-season games and 20 playoff games in that span.
The Redbirds entered April 7 in T-3rd place in the division, which marked the first time since April 12, 2016, that they had fallen out of the top two spots in the standings.
WELCOME HOME BEN: Hailing from nearby Germantown, Tenn., new Redbirds manager Ben Johnson earned the first win of his managerial career on April 4 with the 'Birds 9-2 victory over the Storm Chasers. Johnson spent last season at Triple-A Durham (Tampa Bay), as part of a staff that captured the International League title before falling to the Redbirds in the 2018 Triple-A National Championship. The 37-year-old is also the youngest manager in team history, a mark that was previously held by Danny Sheaffer, who was 41 years old when he was named manager on June 10, 2003.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: The Opening Night roster featured 20 players that were not on the roster for Opening Night last season. Of the five returning players (Adolis Garcia, Austin Gomber, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Rangel Ravelo, Max Schrock) only three (Garcia, Ravelo, Schrock) were starters in the 2018 opener against Round Rock at Dell Diamond. Garcia, Gomber and Ponce de Leon all went on to make their big-leauge debuts last season with St. Louis.
FARM RAISED: Memphis' Opening Night roster featured 11 of St. Louis' top-30 prospects (Baseball America), including three of the top-10. Current prospects on the roster are: Genesis Cabrera (No. 6), Lane Thomas (No. 7), Andrew Knizner (No. 8), Ryan Helsley (No. 11), Tommy Edman (No. 12), Daniel Ponce de Leon (No. 13), Adolis Garcia (No. 15), Jake Woodford (No. 16), Edmundo Sosa (No. 22), Max Schrock (No. 25) and Giovanny Gallegos (No. 29).
BEAK-TO-BEAK-TO-BEAK?: Professional baseball has been played in the city of Memphis since 1877. In that span, only three teams have won back-to-back league championships in that time. The Memphis Egyptians won back-to-back titles in 1903-04, the Memphis Chickasaws won consecutive titles in 1952-53, and now the Redbirds have accomplished the feat with their successive PCL titles in 2017-18. No team in Memphis, however, has been able to capture a third successive title.
WINNING WAYS: After the Redbirds went 91-50 in 2017 and 83-57 last season, they have won 174 games in the last two years. That is the most wins in a two-year span in Memphis history since 1933-34 when the Chickasaws also won 174 games. The 1921-22 Chickasaws set the record for most wins in a two-year span by a Memphis professional team with 198.
KINGS OF THE HILL: After setting the franchise record for best ERA in a season at 3.77 in 2017, last year's staff shattered that record, posting a 3.54 mark. It was the second-consecutive season they owned the best ERA in the league. Additionally, they set the franchise record for most strikeouts in a season (1,160), fewest runs allowed (564), fewest hits allowed (1,152), and lowest opponent batting average (.248). Memphis' entire 2018 Opening Night, five-man starting rotation was promoted to St. Louis last season. John Gant, Dakota Hudson, Austin Gomber, Jack Flaherty, and Daniel Ponce de Leon all played large roles in St. Louis' second-half turnaround.
THE 2018 SEASON
THE BEST ONCE AGAIN: After a 5-0 victory on Sept. 15, 2018, the Memphis Redbirds were crowned champions of the Pacific Coast League, defeating the Fresno Grizzlies three games to one. It was Memphis' fourth PCL title in franchise history, and their second-straight. Memphis also won titles in 2000 and 2009. In 120 seasons of professional baseball in Memphis, it is the 16th championship all-time. Infielder Tommy Edman and outfielder Randy Arozarena were named co-MVPs of the PCL Playoffs. Arozarena hit two home runs in Game 4, giving Memphis all the offense they needed. Edman hit .469 in eight playoff games, notching a hit in all but the final game of the series. Manager Stubby Clapp has now been part of three of Memphis' four titles since they joined the PCL. He played a crucial role on the 2000 team as a middle infielder, and has now guided the Redbirds to consecutive championships as manager.
NEW FACES, NO PROBLEM: The Redbirds won the PCL Championship for the second-straight season, and advanced to the Triple-A National Championship, despite the fact that the Memphis roster was almost completely different from the playoff roster during the 2017 season. It was also almost completely different from the 2018 Opening Day roster. Of the 13 position players who made an appearance in the 2017 playoffs, only two were still on Memphis' active roster. Wilfredo Tovar and Tommy Edman are those two players. Every other player has either been traded, released, or is at a different level of the organization.
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